Creation of institutional gender equality structures: a Gender Equality Unit

Problem (evidence)

Gender audit showed that gender equality was part of the organization’s ethical principles and Vision-Mission Statement. But there was no administrative unit to improve and monitor gender equality at an institutional level.


To lead and support gender equality actions across the university. To ensure the institutionalization and sustainability of gender equality policies and practices. 


The university administration has stated that the academics and the administrative staff members working in the GE Unit will be evaluated accordingly by their respective Deans and managers, and this work will be considered in their performance reports. Therefore, it is an important incentive for academic and administrative staff to take responsibility in the Unit.   

As a body attached to the Rectorate, the Unit is funded by the university’s top administrative office.

Brief outcomes

The creation of the GE Unit effected an important structural change. This has heightened the awareness about OzU’s institutional commitment to gender equality and its GEP.

Key area

The governance bodies, key actors and decision-makers

Type of action

Creation of structures


Özyeğin Üniversitesi
Higher education institution

Action level of implementation

Departments, staff, students


The direct target group of this action was defined as “All the academic and administrative units, staff and students at all levels.”

After a meticulous planning process, the GE Unit was created as a body directly linked to the Rector’s Office. The main idea behind this decision was to endow the GE Unit with the necessary administrative capacity to conduct the GEP implementation as a whole. 

In April 2017, OzU also formed a Sustainable Development Forum (SDF) with TUSIAD, the largest organization of business people and industrialists in Turkey. Four working clusters were formed within this forum and one of these groups was organized around the theme of “social equality.” The GE Unit and the Social Equality cluster are independent from one another but work in collaboration.

A Directive for the GE Unit was written in collaboration with the OzU National Higher Education Council Coordination Unit and this directive was approved by the Directives Commission of the university. The GEP was appended to the Directive as a university policy document and both of these documents were then submitted to the University Senate for the final official approval.


Figuring out the best functional structure for the GE Unit was a challenge. This process lasted longer than expected as it necessitated a series of meetings with the university administration to determine how to situate the GE Unit within the larger structure of the university. There were no previous examples to use as a model so a significant amount of effort went into the drafting of the unit’s directive and making the GEP structurally a part of the university’s institutional policies. In this regard, this action requires complete familiarity with a university’s overall administrative structure, directives, regulations and working mechanisms. 

Coping strategies

Implementation has been achieved through sustained communication and discussion with the relevant university bodies such as the Rectorate and the National Higher Education Council Coordination Unit. Understanding the administrative structure and internal regulations of the institution played a vital role in conceiving and writing the directive of the GE Unit.

 The fact that OzU has selected gender equality as one of the main criteria for being assessed for the social impact rankings of a prestigious international organization significantly contributed to the finalization of this action.  Such incentives for an institution are highly useful in implementing GE plans.

Tips/strategies – Lessons learnt

A slow and complicated process should be anticipated in implementing an action such as the forming of a GE Unit from scratch. Maintaining steady communication and cooperation with the top administration and the relevant units is crucial to make progress on this structural action.

More detailed Outcomes/Impact

Implementation of the GEP actions and securing the institutionalization and sustainability of gender equality at OzU. 


Annual Gender Equality Reports will function as the main tools to evaluate the state of gender equality achieved through the GEP and the activities of the GE Unit.

Reflection/what we would do differently

With hind sight we could have avoided trying to work on some potential structures, however, it was a learning process.

Timelines were extended far beyond initial expectations as governance issues are always more complex than expected.

Unintended consequences

Other activities (university metrics and Sustainable Development Forum) helped make this the ‘right time’ to act and enabled collaborative success.